To cash in from re­play...

Trot­ters

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP THIRD ROUND - By Matthew Bad­cock

DAR­REN PRAT­LEY res­cued Bolton Wan­der­ers from be­ing dumped out of the FA Cup – and set up a re­play that could bring in vi­tal cash to the debt-rid­den Cham­pi­onship club.

Prat­ley struck in the 87thminute to break Na­tional League Eastleigh’s hearts af­ter they’d gone ahead through a Do­rian Dervite own goal early in the se­cond half.

De­feat would have been a disas­ter for Bolton, whose play­ers have been forced to miss a month’s wages be­cause of their fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

With re­ported debts of around £180m, the vul­tures are cir­cling with mid­fielder Mark Davies look­ing to be on his way to Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and Zach Clough also set to de­part – with Bris­tol City and Wed­nes­day again hop­ing to swoop.

Boss Neil Len­non ac­cepts he has lit­tle choice but says he’s sorry to see them go.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult and they may go to ri­val teams,” he said.

On Clough he added:“We don’t want him to go ob­vi­ously be­cause I think there’s a lot more foot­ball in him to come and we want to bring him on a bit more.

“But the na­ture of the cir­cum­stances we find our­selves in as a club is that money dic­tates what we’re do­ing.

“When you’re los­ing play­ers from I wouldn’t say a shoe­string squad, but a squad we haven’t re­ally spent any money on, to lose qual­ity play­ers like that will make stay­ing in the Cham­pi­onship more dif­fi­cult be­cause other teams, you’d imag­ine, will strengthen.”

Even for­mer Bris­tol City, Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and Eastleigh striker Lee Pea­cock, now work­ing for the Spit­fires’ academy, had his squeegee out try­ing to push the wa­ter off the sod­den pitch be­fore the game.

Thanks to a help­ing of sand, the green light was given af­ter a third in­spec­tion.

Wan­der­ers may have wished it hadn’t as Eastleigh im­pressed. Yemi Odubade blazed off tar­get and Jai Rea­son forced Ben Amos to scram­ble across his line to push an­other ef­fort away.

And six min­utes af­ter the break things got worse when Rea­son’s cross was di­verted by Dervite’s out­stretched leg past his own keeper.

Had it not been for David Wheater’s clear­ance off the line from Andy Drury – af­ter a pitch in­vader bizarrely dis­tracted both sets of play­ers – then it could have been game over.

Eastleigh keeper Ross Fl­it­ney made some good saves to keep the Cham­pi­onship side, 51 places higher in the league sys­tem, at bay but he couldn’t do any­thing to stop the equaliser.

Prat­ley was on the spot to poke home War­ren Feeney’s cor­ner from close range to get Bolton un­stuck from the muddy pitch.

“The pitch is a lev­eller and Eastleigh to their credit played very well,” Len­non said.“This was their big day. I’ve played in games like this for Celtic, we lost to Clyde. So I know what it’s like to be on the re­ceiv­ing end of some­thing like that.We just had to stay pa­tient and not panic and thank­fully we got the equaliser.

“I wasn’t overly happy with the pitch. It’s one of the worst pitches I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen some crack­ers in my time in Scot­land. So I wasn’t overly en­am­oured with it, but we trav­elled, peo­ple were wait­ing to get into the ground and the ref­eree did say if there was heavy rain he’d call it off.”

Eastleigh boss Chris Todd said: “The play­ers should be very proud of them­selves be­cause the per­for­mance was out­stand­ing.

“It’s been a very spe­cial day for the foot­ball club and it’s been topped off by the per­for­mance.”

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